Why Are Virginia Dentists Being Hit by Deadly Lung Disease?

What is killing US dentists? Medical experts baffled after a cluster of dental workers die from a chronic lung disease

Dentists Mysteriously Dying of Lung Disease: CDC Report

The disease, called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, is a chronic, progressive lung disease with a poor prognosis. Of the 900 patients analyzed for around twenty years, the CDC found that eight dentists and one dental technician - all of whom were men - had IPF.

The findings indicate that 894 patients were treated for IPF at the center between 1996 and 2017.

The dental professionals were 23 times more likely to have IPF than the rest of the population, the CDC said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, released on Friday (Saturday NZ Time).

This is the first study to find a possible association with dentistry and IPF.

"More work has to be done before we can make any conclusions about the risk dentists or other dental personnel have", Nett said.

'These exposures include bacteria, viruses, dust, gases, radiation, and other respiratory hazards'.

One of the surviving cluster patients reported polishing dental appliances and preparing impressions without using a mask or other protection, according to the report. This made the experts think that those patients who did die could have been exposed to silica, or other compounds that are unsafe to humans due to their potential respiratory toxicity. Martin Rickett/Pa Wire " At this time, we do not know what caused this cluster of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis cases in dental personnel", Dr Nett wrote.

The dentist also reported being exposed to dust during three months working as a street sweeper prior to his entering dental school; he also was exposed to dust from coral beaches in the Caribbean during 15 years doing intermittent stints as a practicing dentist. He said that he had never smoked, and did not wear a respirator throughout his 40 years of dental work. "CDC will follow up on this newly recognized cluster".

This research didn't surprise some experts.

Although the reason behind this remains unsuspected, there might be certain factors contributing towards growth of this disease such as smoking, viral infection, exposure of toxic substance at the time of polishing the dental appliances without wearing any surgical mask for safety goal in order to avoid the damage caused to the body by inhaling the dust particles, as per chief policy officer of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry's Pediatric Oral Health & Research Center, Paul Casamassimo, shared with CNN.

However, pulmonary fibrosis can cause damage to the lung tissues as per the U.S National Institute of Health.

It's estimated that about 200,000 people in the United States have Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) at any one time. "Younger dentists are taught differently than in the past, so they know to delegate certain work or procedures to laboratories that meet more safe and stringent ventilation requirements".

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